Mojo Bass with Beans and Rice
After spending a week sampling food in Cuba, I couldn’t wait to get home and try some of my favorites. I had an opportunity to try many types of fish, Bass, Pargo (red snapper) and Dorado (mahi mahi). One of my favorite preparations included fish seasoned with Mojo, which is a very popular sour orange/garlic/herb sauce topped with a combination of fruit and vegetables. Mojo can also be cooked with chopped onions and used as a dipping sauce. I topped the fish here with chopped avocado and mango which go nicely with the Mojo sauce.
A typical Cuban meal would consist of rice and beans, cooked together or apart. When cooked together the recipe is called “Moros y Cristianos” (black beans and rice). (We all had a laugh at this because the English translation is literally Moors and Christians which is not helpful on a menu.) If cooked separately it is called “Arroz con/y Frijoles” (rice and beans). A main course is usually pork or beef, which is not on the Good Mother Diet, however seafood is plentiful (as Cuba is an island) and it is traditional to serve some sort of side dishes like tubers, such as yuca, malanga, and potato all served either hervidas (boiled) or fritas (fried), as well as plantains and bananas). So even for vegetarians, even though it’s a meat heavy diet, there are plenty of yummy things to eat.
I had some form of beans and rice for most meals, many of which had sauteed peppers or other vegetables, but I found that my favorite was a simple black beans and rice. White rice is traditional in Cuba but I prefer a long grain brown rice which has more flavor as well as better food value. You can soak the beans overnight and cook them as described on the label, or you can use canned beans that have been drained and rinsed. Authentic beans and rice is made using the water from the cooking calls for cooking the garlic and onions in bacon, however, I have modified this recipe from “Cuban Home Cooking,” by Cossio and Lafray, to be vegetarian/vegan.
I also loved trying the varieties of fruits and vegetables available on this tropical island. My favorites were steamed or fried yucca, also known as cassava, and fried sweet potato. I am not a fan of plantain but loved fried bananas. I was skeptical that I could find yucca in my supermarket (and I didn’t even know what it looked like) so was surprised to see a sign for fresh yucca, which turns out to be a long, squashlike vegetable with a hard brown shell right in my local Whole Foods. Ideally, I would try to eat more seasonal, local foods, however, if I want to try cooking something like yucca or mango that doesn’t grow around here, my only option is to buy it imported from Mexico or South America. Later this week I’ll try out a few Cuban desserts and share my results. Enjoy
2 Tbsp fresh orange juice
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp ground oregano
1/8 tsp salt
4 5 or 6 oz bass fillets (or another white fish like snapper or cod, 1 inch thick)
cooking spray or oil for the pan
1 small mango
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 Tbsp fresh mint, sliced crossways into slivers
- Preheat broiler.
- Combine first 8 ingredients, stirring with a whisk or briskly with a fork.
- To chop mango, cut in ‘half’ vertically just to the side of the seed on the flat side. Then make a row of cuts in the flesh, taking care not to cut through the skin. Then turn and make a row of cuts crosswise. Flip the skin inside out and you can easily cut off the cubes. Click the link below for a video on how to cut a mango. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Go-n27Zkv4k
- Combine mango, avocado and mint in a small bowl and set aside. Placing the avocado pit on top will prevent it from turning brown.
- Arrange fish, skin side down, on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray or olive oil. Brush half of orange juice mixture over fish (you can marinate up to an hour); broil 4 minutes. Brush with remaining orange juice mixture; broil 4 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Top with avocado/mango mixture.
Cuban Beans and Rice (Moros y Christianos)
1 cup uncooked rice
1 cup cooked and drained black beans
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 ½ cup vegetable broth (1/3 cup more if using brown rice)
½ onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
- Saute onion and garlic in 1 Tbsn oil on medium heat until onion is translucent. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Add rice to the pan and saute until it starts to crackle.
- Add vegetable broth, cover and let cook over medium low until the rice is tender but not mushy (brown rice will take longer).
- Add the beans and onion/garlic mixture and 1 Tbsn oil and cook a few minutes longer. Serve warm.
1 or 2 fresh Yucca(or frozen)
1 tsp salt
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 Tbsn lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
- Cut the ends off the yucca, then cut it in half, peel with a sharp knife and cut into large pieces.
- Place yucca into a large pot and cover with water. Add salt. Boil until tender (about 30 minutes).
- Drain off water and set aside.
- Sprinkle with garlic and add lemon juice.
- In a separate pan, heat olive oil until it begins to bubble. Pour over yucca and gently mix. Serve warm.
Fried Sweet Potato and Banana
1-2 sweet potatoes
2-4 bananas (unripe to medium ripe)
2-3 Tbsn olive oil, coconut oil or avocado oil
- Peel sweet potatoes and slice horizontally
- Peel and slice bananas and slice horizontally
- Heat oil in a heavy pan and fry on medium high heat until browned on both sides.
- Serve immediately